BYU one of first to teach airbrush makeup technique



    Thanks to movie magic, the various “Star Trek” crews careen through space searching for “new life and new civilizations.” And thanks to makeup artists, members of these “new civilizations” sport big ears, knobby noses and foreheads and twisted teeth.

    Airbrush makeup, used to create “Star Trek’s” menagerie of aliens, is one of the newest forms of makeup artistry, and BYU is among the first to teach it.

    BYU is the first school in the Western United States to teach airbrush makeup in its program, said Janet Swenson, professor of makeup.

    Emily Hoem, a graduate student from San Jose, Calif., studying costume design, has been studying the technique for one semester.

    “It has changed how I look at makeup,” she said.

    The makeup is applied using airbrushes designed specifically for makeup, Hoem said.

    “It’s much more natural looking and you can cover areas with less pigment to get a more natural look,” she said.

    But reality is not always what makeup artists use the airbrush for, Hoem said. Actors can have designs stenciled on to their bodies with the airbrush.

    Fall Semester’s production of “Children of Eden” used airbrush makeup to paint intricate designs on the actors’ faces, Swenson said.

    Becoming proficient enough to apply airbrush makeup for a production such as “Children of Eden” takes months of practice, said Andrea Kyriopoulos, 20, a junior from Mount Sterling, Cache County, majoring in theater studies.

    “If you practiced with it every day for a month you could get to the point where you are really good at it,” Kyriopoulos said.

    But that only happens after mastering the basics, Swenson said.

    Once a student has mastered the technique, he or she has a tool that is vital to working in the modern entertainment and television industries, she said.

    Because of the advent of high-definition television, some makeup artists fear traditional makeup techniques will look false on screen, Swenson said. Airbrush makeup will be a valuable tool, she said.

    “If you really know how to use the airbrush you will be able to do makeup so that it cannot be seen,” she said. “And that will be really important on the people who need to look good but who need to look like they are not made up. You know there’s a difference between doing glamour makeup on a girl on high-definition and doing a pioneer woman on high-definition.”

    There are those who disagree with Swenson.

    On a recent trip to Los Angeles, Swenson talked to a makeup artist on the set of the TV show “Providence.”

    “He said that he has worked in high-definition and that he can use his regular makeup techniques and its just fine,” Swenson said.

    Although airbrush makeup began to be popularized by shows such as “Star Trek: the Next Generation,” more newscasters are beginning to use it because it is more durable and easier to maintain, she said.

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